Wacky weather halts contest

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

It appears Mother Nature isn't a fan of the Edmonton Eskimos this summer.

In a spectacular but scary example of the power of a summer thunderstorm, the Eskimos and B.C. Lions ran for cover with 6:01 left in the second quarter last night when sheets of rain, howling winds and bolts of lightning collided over Commonwealth Stadium.

WINDS NEARING 80 KM/H

The wicked storm cell - which barreled in from the north with gusts of wind nearing 80 km/h - dumped the B.C. Lions' benches and tossed around nearly 20 A-frame sponsorship signs on the sidelines.

Some of those five-foot long plastic signs were actually ripped across the field, with one smacking Eskimo safety Kelly Wiltshire as he ran to the dressing room.

"That was the best hit of the game on me because I was blindsided," said Wiltshire.

Head referee Ken Lazaruk halted the game at 8:08 p.m. and ordered the players to their dressing rooms.

BLACK STOPPED PLAY

George Black - the CFL's director of officiating, who was in the Commonwealth Stadium press box - then ordered halftime to start, leaving the teams to play just over 36:10 after the break.

"In the 28 years I have been in the league I don't think we have ever done that," said Black, referring to calling halftime early. "But welcome to Western Canada. If you don't like the weather, wait 20 minutes."

And indeed, nearly 20 minutes after the storm hammered the stadium - 28 to be precise - the game resumed.

It marked the second time this year Mother Nature forced a game to be delayed. The opening tilt of the season in Calgary started 35 minutes late due to a torrential downpour and lightning.


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